Operation: Gratitude

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The dentist’s office. Probably the last place any kid wants to be after Halloween. Yet, Cross Pointe Dental in Orem was bustling with kids on Nov. 1.

“I gave away just all of it … Well, I kept a few pieces,” Jacob Nianchar, a kid from Orem, said.

For the past five years, Damon Swenson of Cross Pointe Dental and his staff have been doing a candy buyback program to keep kids’ mouths healthy. But not only that, this candy is going to a great cause.

“We do it through Operation: Gratitude, which is a non-profit organization that gathers a lot of candy and other supplies that they send to the troops stationed overseas,” Damon Swenson said.

Pat Swenson, building coordinator of Cross Pointe Dental, said they knew once they heard about Operation: Gratitude, it would be perfect for their office.

“We’re all about the military and supporting the troops and just feel that sense of patriotism and want to help out any way we can,” Pat Swenson said.

And the turnout is always great, with hundreds of kids coming to give away pounds and pounds of their stashes. Kids are more than willing to help out and write a little thank-you card to the troops as well.

“We usually get about 500 pounds of candy per year; at the thank-you card station we usually get
a couple hundred cards,” Pat said.

Kids may show up pretty tight-fisted, but there’s an incentive for all this charity.

“Each pound the kids bring in, they get raffle tickets that they can win prizes (with); we have some cool stuff,” Damon said.

Bigger goodies are in store for those gracious kids. Stuffed animals, action figures, even iPods are all up for grabs for kids who donate their candy. And there are prizes for the parents too, just to encourage a little more donation. A professional Oral-B toothbrush and even orthodontic care are available for “the big kids.”

“Kids are so visual, they have to see the prize, especially when you’re asking them to give up candy,” Pat said.

With the Army recruiter next door to the office, there’s no question in these kids’ minds where the candy is all going.
“Most kids really get what’s happening,” Damon said. “You can tell they understand there are men, daddies and mommies that are stationed overseas for period of times; even the little ones seem to get that that can be a sacrifice.”

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